Here is my second part of this game thing. The modern part. The part where we play games on our computers and our phones and our tablets. I have learned that I’m a game addict, and I am not alone, not by a long shot.When a game requires no physical participation that tires me out, I can play and play and play. Online Solitaire, Angry Birds, Bubble Witch, Candy Crush? Moonlight MahJongg? Oh yeah. I have to delete those games if I am to stop playing them.
Actually I go in phases. I was a big Mahjong player – on my computer only – for a while, and I finally gave it away to a visitor to my house. That was the only way I’d quit. But that was long ago, when the games weren’t so easy to download, when you had to go to a store and buy them, if only you could find one for a Mac. I’m not so hooked on that anymore, although I do love a good game when I’m on a long phone conversation. Or watching TV. As you can see from the image above, I’m a rather competitive player. I play against a tilebot that always knows where the next match is. As you can also see by my score of over 800,000, I’m rather good at it. I must watch a lot of TV or talk on the phone a lot.
The beauty of those games is I don’t have to find anyone to play them with me. It is also the sadness of them. I can hole up and play alone, no need to interact with anyone at all.
Some are different, though. Candy Crush requires or at least encourages you to get lives from other people. I did that for a while, until it got too hard and I realized that they really just wanted me to spend $.99 for an extra life so I could pass a level. And then I heard that King pulls in $500.000 daily from that game, and that is not from downloads of the game itself. That is free. Sounds like a drug deal doesn’t it? And in a way it is. Solitary electronic gaming is an addiction, much like drugs or gambling or alcohol. For me, at least, it can be. That’s why I’m always deleting those games to break the addiction to the current one. I no longer play Candy Crush, by the way. As opposed to someone very dear to me who has passed every level and is now on the secondary levels. The Owl levels, FTW.
After I gave away MahJong, my daughter introduced me to Farmville. I think she even made me a farm so she could ask me for things. I got completely immersed in that game. I had friends on Facebook that I’d never met, that I only connected with for the purposes of that game. I’d wake up in the middle of the night to harvest a crop so it wouldn’t wilt before morning. One year (#trueconfession) I decorated my farm for Christmas and not my house. Let the impact of that settle in for a moment… That year I quit cold turkey on New Year’s Day. And I didn’t look back, honestly. Once I’m done I’m done. (Okay, I just went and tried to look at my farm. I have no friends any more and it is all different, as though someone else farmed it while I was gone and didn’t do a very good job. I do still have over $2,000,000 in gold coins and 876 tanks of fuel, but all my animals are gone. It has these weird buildings on it and hardly any fields. And I had to place a Zen teahouse before I could even look at it. It was probably a mistake to look, because now I’ll start getting requests on Facebook about it, but I am not at all attracted to look twice. I’m cured, thank goodness!)
So thinking of how these games affect me, a grownup, an educated person with a responsible job that I have to go to every day, how does that translate to my students? School requires involvement on a less exciting level than does a game. Video games are way fun, and exciting and challenging. You can stay up all night playing them, and I know that often my students do just that. Then they come to school and sleep. Whenever I have to wake a kid up, I ask if he (usually a boy) was up playing games last night, and the answer is usually “Yes.” How can I compete with that? No matter how interesting I make my class (or think I’ve made it) when the kid is asleep it doesn’t matter, does it?
Unless you find a really good video about honey badgers (Not Randall’s!). They’ll wake up for Honey Badgers.